Jiro Takamatsu - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session New York Wednesday, May 16, 2018 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    The present lot belongs to Jiro Takamatsu’s celebrated series of Shadow paintings, depicting a family of three in soft gray against a stark white background. With blurry, hazy contours and no anatomical indication of gaze, the artist has given us just enough implication that the two outermost figures are looking down adoringly at their young child, whose hands they are each holding. Painted in 1997 just a year before the artist’s death, Shadow No. 1395 evokes a sense of nostalgic wistfulness for the past, highlighting the fleeting nature of life. This is particularly poignant in the present lot, which calls to question the artist’s own family life, of which little is known, in one of the last paintings of his career. The enigma of this influential artist’s life is one that has been continually explored since his death in 1998, most recently in his first solo show at a public institution outside of Japan at the Henry Moore Institute last fall.

    As a key member of the Mona-Ha movement and founder of the minimalist art collective Hi-Red Center in Tokyo, Takamatsu was influential in breaking the traditional boundaries between high art and everyday objects, working across the disciplines of painting, sculpture and photography. First begun in 1964, Takamatsu’s Shadow series has become the artist’s most well-known body of work. In their large-scale, life-size format, these paintings exhibit a unique kind of trompe-l’oeil effect on the walls on which they hang, one that delves deeper than simply tricking the eye. The Shadow paintings also possess an emotional effect that is impossible not to link to the conditions surrounding Takamatsu in post-war Japan, plagued by the memories of militant tragedies and political unrest. Indeed the beginning of Takamatsu’s Shadow paintings coincides with a period of recurrent protests throughout the 1960s. When viewing the present lot through this political lens, the poignancy of Takamatsu’s chosen subject matter is heightened – subjects that are uniquely not present, but instead are an implied presence, confined to the boundaries of the canvas.


Shadow No. 1395

signed, titled and dated "JIRO TAKAMATSU 1997 No. 1395" on the reverse
acrylic on canvas
85 7/8 x 114 5/8 in. (218.1 x 291.1 cm.)
Painted in 1997.

$180,000 - 250,000 

Sold for $312,500

Contact Specialist
John McCord
Head of Day Sale, Morning Session
New York
+1 212 940 1261

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session

New York Auction 16 May 2018